Climate change implications for irrigation and groundwater in the Republican River Basin, U.S.A.

Authors: Gengxin Ou*,
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: irrigation, climate change, hydrology, water resources
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Buchanan, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study investigates the influence of climate change on groundwater availability, and thereby, irrigation across political boundaries within the United States’ High Plains aquifer. A regression model is developed to predict changes in irrigation according to predicted changes in precipitation and temperature from a downscaled dataset of 32 general circulation models (GCMs). Precipitation recharge changes are calculated with precipitation-recharge curves developed for prognostic representations of precipitation across the Nebraska-Colorado-Kansas area and within the Republican River Basin focal landscape. Irrigation-recharge changes are scaled with changes in irrigation. The groundwater responses to climate forcings are then simulated under new pumping and recharge rates using a MODFLOW groundwater flow model. Results show that The simulation results suggest that in response to climate change: 1) water stress in the irrigation season will be exaggerated due to increased irrigation water demands; 2) recharge will increase in the non-irrigation season; 3) groundwater levels will decline more in areas with declining trends in the baseline; and 4) baseflow will increase because of increased groundwater recharge in the Republican River valley. The methodologies and predictions of this study can inform long-term water planning and the design of management strategies that help avoid and resolve water-related conflicts, enabling irrigation sustainability.

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